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CES Briefing: Celebrities, influencers descend on Vegas as creator space continues to evolve

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Tech and Hollywood may seem worlds apart, but at this year’s Consumer and Electronics Show (CES), you’re just as likely to bump into a celebrity or creator as you are to meet a startup entrepreneur or tech billionaire.

For years, these seemingly distinct worlds have been steadily inching closer together, but at this year’s CES, they’re colliding head-on.

Celebs and even creators nowadays, are not only seen as public figures, but as media brands in their own right, with ready-made followings and communities in most cases. As such, the next evolution for those brands is to tout themselves to marketers and tech firms at the likes of CES.

This annual gathering along the Vegas strip provides the ideal environment for tech and entertainment’s elite to showcase their latest ventures, and in some cases, even spark new deals for the year ahead. The C-Space, the part of the show dedicated to marketing innovation, was the epicenter of this collision, with big names like Robert Downey Jr. and Evan Spiegel making their presence felt — and unsurprisingly, much of the action unfolded right on the MediaLink stage.

“There are a lot of celebrities and creators who are at CES who are starting to build their brands out,” said David Muldoon, MediaLink’s vp of strategic advisory. “They might have their own agency that they want to promote, for instance. It’s the people who have their own businesses and are wanting to essentially enter into the creator economy. They might have their own agency, for instance and they want to help to build brands by using their own fame as leverage.” 

Will.i.am — who is not only a renowned rapper, singer and songwriter, but also the founder and CEO of FYI.AI, a project tool for creatives — also took to the stage with The Palmer Group CEO Shelly Palmer for a fireside chat as part of the Brand Innovators Summit sessions. As for his appearance at CES — will.i.am teamed up with Mercedes to launch MBUX Sound Drive — a technology which uses software that allows the music to react to the way the car is being driven.

“Every single drive is a different variation of a song,” said will.i.am. “I thought that was a no-brainer back in 2002 when I pitched it to Mercedes. But I didn’t think Mercedes would say ‘hey, let’s try to materialize it.’ And when you’re working with a company like Mercedes, they are the top engineers.”

The likes of will.i.am have been trying to take control of their own destiny for years, whether it was starting their own production companies, tech startups — or thinking about how they could use emerging tech in their artistry. Musicians and sportsmen, for example, have realized they can create their own content, build their own fanbase, and make money directly from their audience.

In other words, they’re becoming creators and influencers in their own right. 

Celebrity chef and owner of mŏkbar and mŏkbar Brooklyn, Esther Choi made an appearance at Current Backyard’s booth, where the company was showcasing its new smart-enabled Current Model G Dual-Zone Grill. And Choi was there to show off her skills by cooking an exclusive recipe on the new product.

Conversely, creators are becoming celebrities by utilizing digital platforms to amass huge followings and fan bases. They’re no longer just behind-the-scenes talents; they’re stepping into the spotlight as influential figures in their own regard. 

Take Paris Hilton, for example. The OG influencer — who has her own media company, 11:11 Media, with a portfolio of brands ranging from homeware and merch to pet clothing and fragrances, has made another appearance at CES, this year at Omnicom’s invite-only show, The Transformation Experience alongside Palmer and David Shing, also known as “Shingy” — an Australian marketing executive who previously held various senior roles at AOL. 

“Brands are discussing how they are tapping creators to trendspot and move at the speed of culture. For brands to keep up with lightning-fast trend cycles, identifying trends before they take off in the social sphere has become imperative to seeing success and virality,” said Ryan Detert, CEO of influencer marketing company Influential. — Krystal Scanlon

Omnicom makes influencer-driven first-mover deal with Amazon Posts API

Omnicom’s made it a mission of sorts during CES 24 to cement partnerships and arrangements with the major social and commerce platforms around better use and measurement of influencers and creators — and to empower those influencers to have more lower-funnel impact in their work with advertisers. 

Digiday has learned that today, Omnicom will announce it’s the first holding company to strike a deal with Amazon to integrate creator content in Amazon’s Posts API — the commerce giant’s social media-like platform.

Basically, the deal brings influencer content to the biggest e-commerce platform in the world, and the arrangement will roll out in select markets globally, said an Omnicom representative. But it also enables measurement and tracking of that content to help gauge its effectiveness in driving sales. 

Amazon Posts essentially are organic placements throughout Amazon that can come from any other platform; the company is in beta for paid placements to use in Sponsored Brands campaigns. By using Post performance reporting metrics, and unique Omnicom attribution capabilities, Omnicom clients will be able to generate deeper insights to better understand the impact creator assets have on Amazon retail product performance.

“We have the ability when we’re on TikTok or Instagram or any other platform to drive that influencer media to Amazon, and for the first time have the capability to measure the Amazon sale” from it, said Megan Pagliuca, Omnicom Media Group’s North American head of activation. “Historically, the capability that was allowed was essentially enabling an ad to cart but not actually tracking all the way to sale.”

Added Kevin Blazaitis, the head of OMG’s influencer practice: “By adding the influencer extension on Amazon posts, that gives us not only a purchase tied extension, but it gives us that tracking that is so, so key… It’s augmenting creative with data to give a much lower funnel approach.” 

Omnicom clients haven’t yet started using this but Suhaila Hobba, chief media officer at OMD, said CPG, retail and commerce clients will likely be the first to make use of the ability, which has grown in importance across the media agency. “The influencer work that we’re doing is one of the top 10 products within all of OMD, so we’re excited to grow that business internally.”

One Omnicom client, Clorox Co., also pledged interest in the opportunity. “Social plays a significant role in influencing brand selection in our categories, particularly amongst millennials and Gen Z, so we’re optimistic about new commerce-enabled opportunities that enhance measurement and attribution across the funnel,” said Eric Schwartz, Clorox’s CMO.   

This where Omnicom’s recent acquisition of Flywheel comes into play, in that its commerce acumen helps optimize how to meld influencer strategy with execution on Amazon. “It’s exciting to hit the ground running at CES with this first-mover partnership with Amazon,” said Flywheel CEO Duncan Painter. “As we bring Flywheel Commerce Cloud and Omni [Omnicom’s open operating system] together, this will be an important step in how we can analyze and join up above-the-line activity through sales analysis.”  Michael Bürgi

Elsewhere from CES

  • Instacart is using CES to show off its “smart” shopping cars that let shoppers scan items, weigh produce and pay at the cart rather than in a check-out line. The Caper cart, acquired through a previous acquisition, will also show shoppers sponsored and organic product suggestions based on what’s already in their cart.
  • This week at CES, Netflix is using a booth on the showroom floor to promote its adaptation of the sci-fi novel “3 Body Problem.”
  • During NASDAQ’s keynote at CES, chair and CEO Adena Friedman talked about how they’re using large language models to identify potential threats to financial markets and address risks faster.
  • Tech companies have been hosting major music acts during CES after parties. This week, Steve Aoki was the DJ for Riot and HP’s party, Nelly performed at TCL’s event and Green Day at Harman’s event.

Overheard

“Because we’re in category creation, the majority of those high level messages will all be about AI. We see this as an inflection point, it’s probably the largest, most seminal moment in PCs in decades. I’ve been in this business for 30 years and it’s a huge moment for the category to disrupt itself.” — Lenovo CMO Emily Ketchen

Veteran’s tip of the day: Don’t peak too soon

Marla Newman, evp of sales at Raptive, drops a CES truth bomb: don’t jam-pack your schedule. From dawn till dusk, back-to-back meetings? Big mistake. Navigate smart — like from Aria to Cosmo, it takes time. Build in breathing room for those chance encounters and golden networking moments. Remember, the best connections at CES often happen on the fly.

CES is a whirlwind from touchdown, and it’s easy to catch FOMO, says TripleLife’s CMO Jordan Bitterman. His key to conquering CES is straightforward: Leave breathing room in your schedule. The magic happens in those spare moments post-meetings or during random hallway run-ins. This approach is crucial for two reasons: First, in our zoom-dominated world, rare face-to-face connections are gold. Don’t rush – savor these encounters. Second, innovation doesn’t clock-watch. Case in point: the NewFronts concept was born from a casual CES chat I had years ago. Don’t cram your day. Allow space for those spontaneous, brainwave-sparking moments.” — as told to Seb JosephRead the full veteran’s guide to CES.

What to do

9 to 9:40 a.m. CMO Insights: AI and Digital Inclusion at ARIA, Level 2, Mariposa 4

10 to 10:40 a.m. Speaking GenZ at Venetian, Level 4, Marcello 4404

1 to 1:40 p.m. How Tech Can Transform Women’s Health at LVCC, North Level 2, N250

2:20 to 3:20 p.m. The U.S. Privacy Landscape – Consumers Deserve Better Than a Patchwork of Confusion at LVCC, North Level 2, N262

Other Digiday coverage

  • Music has become a strategy linchpin for marketers as they’re increasingly looking to participate more authentically in culture as opposed to appearing around it. But as the trend continues, music marketing experts say brands must be thoughtful. 
  • In this week’s Digiday+ Research Briefing, we examine how Gen Z consumes the news, how publishers are less likely to depend on subscriptions revenue this year, and how AI and influencer marketing are hot topics at CES 2024.

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